9/11 on Both Sides

I usually do not like to talk about this day because it is very weighed and personal in its nature. However, this thoughtful perspective on the commemoration of September 11 forced me to make an exception. This is an excerpt of the piece written by Ben Cohen, editor-founder of The Daily Banter.

But today should serve not only as a reminder of the crime, but the enormous spirit of collaboration, kindness and humanity that came after it. The world watched in amazement as Americans came together to help each other, citizens risking their lives to pull strangers out of the rubble, money flooding in from rich and poor alike to help victims, monuments, vigils, charities, support groups and a limitless well of empathy. It was an amazing spectacle and a testament to the strength of human decency in the face of brutality.

9/11 was a tragedy and we should remember not only the Americans who died, but the Afghanis and Iraqis who suffered too. Because if we don’t, we risk repeating the same mistakes again – the belief that the outside world doesn’t matter with people whose lives are unimportant. We found out on 9/11 that our interference in the outside world has consequences, that they will fight back and use violence to achieve their ends, just as we will. Because violence begets violence, and once you start it is almost impossible to stop.

Perhaps we could remember the victims of 9/11 and pay homage to their unwitting sacrifice by stopping the cycle. And that starts with the understanding that our lives are not more important than theirs and remembering their suffering in equal part to our own.

 

If you don’t view juxtaposition as mind game, read on.

 

Below are a few images from IsraelLovesIran.com. It was started by a father/teacher/graphic designer who was tired of feeling helpless by the growing distorted communication between the people of the two nations. He put up a poster online with his daughter in hand and a remarkably penetrative, succinct caption. On the website it says:

Within hours tens of Israelis posted their own pictures with the same message.

After 24 hours messages from Iran started to arrive. People, moved to tears, wrote back “we love you too”. Today, just few month later, we are a community of 63 countries.
More than 67000 people are on our web-page.

New Pages from around the world  with the same message and same logo are born every week… we call this movement for peace : The ”WE LOVE YOU” community.

They have received millions of hits and news organizations from around the world have mentioned this movement.

Needless to say, I am deeply moved.

Consider spreading the word.

 

Ronny Edry, the man who started it all.

Will the environment suffer if the world’s poor get a better standard of living?

The answer is, no. According to Oxfam:

  • Providing enough food for the 13% of the world’s people who suffer from hunger means raising world food supplies by just 1%.
  • Providing electricity to the 19% of people who currently have none would raise global carbon emissions by just 1%.
  • Bringing everyone above the global absolute poverty line ($1.25 a day) would need just 0.2% of global income.
  • In other words, it is not the needs of the poor that threaten the biosphere, but the demands of the rich. Half the world’s carbon emissions are produced by just 11% of its people, while, with grim symmetry, 50% of the world’s people produce just 11% of its emissions. Animal feed used in the EU alone, which accounts for just 7% of the world’s people, uses up 33% of the planet’s sustainable nitrogen budget.

So it is the rich that are using up the global resource budget.

Toss these statistics at someone’s face the next time they tell you that feeding the poor means your next bill at Walmart or Carrefour is going to cost more; I like to stand armed.

 

You can read the full article by George Monbiot at the Guardian from where this information was obtained.

Are Americans stupid? News, election, freedom, and hysterical laughter

Today is about news, so I’ve brightly painted the Exit signs in advance.

I'm the guy in red

It is difficult to pick one particular piece that’s good by George Monbiot, writer and journalist for The Guardian. He is the last person you would want to debate with because he knows his stuff and the good thing he is on our side. In this column he talks about how “libertarianism, once a noble impulse, become synonymous with injustice?”

Time magazine often has special covers for its US issue. Are Americans stupid? What do you think.

 

Since no matter where you live you will be bombarded with US presidential race, why not refresh on how it breaks down. Here is a quick rundown of US Primary elections (delegates and super delegates), the Electoral College (winner takes all, no popular vote) and how both are ridiculously flawed. You can become president with just 24% of the popular vote! Three times in American history the candidate with more votes actually lost because of the Electoral College.

To leave with a lighter, more hopeful thought: it’s OK to make a fool of yourself.

Who is the Roman Goddess of love? =)  : ) )

 

1 minute photography tips

.. by none other than Steve McCurry, or the guy who took this picture

The Afghan Girl

Here are his 7 humble, experienced and usable tips on photography. Each is about a minute long. For me they essentially all talk about finding your voice, staying curious, and being human.

1. Don’t forget to say hello

 

2. Unusual vantage points

 

3. How to fit in

 

4. Follow your noooose

 

5. Honesty and Humor

 

6. Don’t think too much

 

7. Solitary endeavor

Don’t go bananas over apple — the real Steve Jobs

Most of the buzz around Steve Jobs and his wondrous contribution to the world has gone now but I still think it useful to keep things in perspective on the man. He was not a messiah, crusader, or even a genius. He was just very good at what he did.

Apple does not come out with the smartest products. They tweak things that are already out and capitalize on their cool underdog factor.

He was an innovator, not inventor. He was temperamental and could get loud and rude with friends, colleagues, or even nurses.

He borrowed the characteristic features of the Macintosh—the mouse and the icons on the screen—from the engineers at Xerox PARC, after his famous visit there, in 1979. The first portable digital music players came out in 1996. Apple introduced the iPod in 2001.

This is from a piece in The New Yorker by none other than Malcom Gladwell on the other side of Jobs.

I have nothing against the man. It was sad the way he passed but it is still important to see all the sides of something.

Why Facebook SUCKS

I’m not just venting against the mass-hysteria-for-the-new-cool that is Facebook. No, now there are actual reasons to despise it.

A poll by Macmillan Cancer Support found that the average young adult has 237 Facebook friends, but only two they could turn to for real support.

Kindly read the following as you play You’ve Got a Friend In Me in your mind.

The survey of 1,000 people aged 18 to 35 found that two-thirds of respondents said they had two or fewer really close friends. It also found that one in eight (13%) admitted they did not have even a single person they considered to be a good enough friend to rely on if life got very hard. Men (16%) were more likely than women (12%) to have no one to turn to.

SEEE, I was right all along! In your face to the skeptics who doubted us skeptics.

Now for my rant worded perfectly by Nerimon instead.

How 1984 is 2012

“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”

Many have said this tale before, how their year is like Orwell’s infamous future, but that doesn’t mean I cannot join that roster of writers. This is my fanciful attempt at bridging how many aspects of 1984 are eerily similar to the present with some quotes from the book interspersed in-between; or my longest blabbering yet.

Much of this may seem far-fetched and dismal but come on, if it’s about 1984 it has got to be that way.

The world is seen through the sensibilities of Winston Smith, the only one in the entire land of Oceania it seems who possesses a mind that helplessly cannot forego logic. This is his Achilles heel. “Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”

 1. Newspeak: the new words formed by a systematic reduction of words from Oldspeak everyday by the Party. Thinkcrime, doublethink, goodwise, speedful, etc. This way there are fewer choices to express your thoughts outside and even to yourself.

Today: The new shorthand. I have heard of teachers and college professors who complain not just of poor capitalization but that they read things like “2 b or nt 2 b, dat is da qstn” in exam papers. I kid you not.

 2. Memory Loss: Winston often wonders, “Was he, then, alone in the possession of a memory?” Weekly chocolate rations reduce from 30gms to 20gms but it is announced that your rations have increased to 20gms and everyone around him has a smile. In the book Eurasia is the current enemy nation-continent but was actually Oceania’s ally four years ago and the current ally East-asia was its enemy. The roles keep changing as need be.

“But if there was hope, it lay in the proles. You had to cling on to that. When you put in words it sounded reasonable: it was when you looked at the human beings passing you on the pavement that it became an act of faith.”

Today: how our enemy got to be that way and how many hands were involved is not mentioned as many times as simply as this is the enemy. The history of the matter is not taken into account. Be it countries we are at war with or how banks wield so much control over Congress.

3.   Information control: the Party destroys all records that do not suite it in the Records department or alters the old ones. There are no books or papers that the Party has not touched.

Today: This may seem most unlikely since information is the one thing that is most liberalized and on nearly everyone’s fingertips. Today it is easier than it has ever been. But who is paying for it? Someone has to and it is getting harder every year for the handful of reliable media organizations to stay that way because viewers prefer not to pay. Wikipedia is the sixth most visited website right now and even I’m tired of seeing their contribution drive which has been going on for over a month, and yet for example if everyone who viewed it from say…India… in a single day gave $2 then their drive would end that very day.

Another example: the big protest on Net Neutrality. Something so basic as keeping the internet equal for everyone was being opposed by giants like  Don’t-Be-Evil Google.

“Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.”

4.   Two Minutes Hate: it is two minutes of video footage of the enemy compulsorily shown to everyone. The people are driven into a frenzy of hate. It is a venting of hatred, almost celebratory. The cause could be the acts of the Party itself but this is a better channel to release it. Winston knows this but even he gets caught up in it. He begins to shout and curse at the people on the screen, then his hate shifts internally towards the young woman standing next to him, then even towards himself. It seems comical because the enemy is almost caricature. The wicked soldiers are stern, expressionless and ugly with their gun pointing at you and marching forward. Now flashes the face of Emanuel Goldstein, the master bad guy, on top of all the evil Eurasian soldiers. You know it is frenzy because Emanuel’s face morphs into the face of a sheep and everyone is still screaming!

 “The horrible thing about Two Minutes of Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in… A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill… and yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.”

Today: 24hrs news networks leave the job of analysis for Casper The Friendly Ghost and instead go with feeds and snippets instead of actual news. Everything is laid out in B&W and one-sided numbers are crunched; the casualties on the other side are not A-priority.

“If he (citizen of Oceania) were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred & self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate.”

 5. Telescreen: The oblong metallic and reflective object that is placed throughout the city and in every room. It can hear and see your every movement and dole out party messages.

Today: CCTV at all junctions is common but mandatory fingerprint scans on new IDs. It is also easier to check-up on someone mainly because people post a lot of embarrassing info. themselves but also when folks like AT&T tap the internet usage of its subscribers due to govt. pressure.

“If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones.”

 

This post isn’t directing to one country or another. Every country has and does resort to these things. If you can draw any more parallels between the book and today then please do let me know.

The book concludes with a note that in 1984 only academics could write in Newspeak but by the year 2050 it will have superseded Oldspeak completely.

 

“He though with a kind of astonishment of the biological uselessness of pain and fear, the treachery of the human body which always freezes into inertia at exactly the moment when a special effort is needed.” “It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body.”

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”